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Department of Atmospheric Science

Thurs., Nov. 16, 3:10 pm, EN6085

Introducing A Global Wildfire Plume Height Dataset: Algorithm, Implementation and Application

Dr. Ziming Ke

School of Earth and Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta


The plume heights (smoke injection height) are important for calculating the transport and lifetime of wildfire emitted pollutants, which can significantly affect regional air quality and atmospheric radiation budget. A global plume height dataset has been developed based on observation-based inputs. The resulting dataset from 2002 to 2010 captured well the observed plume-rise height distribution featured as lower in low latitudes and higher in high latitudes. With adding the diurnal variability into the algorithm, the plume height displays reasonable diurnal cycle and increases the rate of the plume penetrating above the boundary layer from 20% in the morning to 55% in late afternoon. By integrating plume heights into wildfire emission data, the impacts of plume height on climate are investigated. The results show the plume height enhanced the AOD downstream of the wildfire spots by 20 to 50% and slightly reduced the AOD near wildfires in both topics and high latitudes. The plume height data are further applied to implement an online plume-rise module in the CAM 5, allowing for the feedbacks of climate/weather on fire plume rise.
For application purpose, the impacts of Western Canadian Wildfires (WCWs) on Northeastern U.S. (NEUS) air quality has been investigated. The WCWs have been increasing in recent decades. Fire emitted aerosols can significantly affect air quality and increase the ratio of organic carbon (OC) to elemental carbon (EC) in downwind regions. The observed OC/EC ratios at the IMPROVE network sites over the NEUS show significant correlations with WCWs burned area in June from 2001 to 2015. Detailed analysis of the observations and ensemble modeling simulations using the CAM5 show that both WCWs intensity and atmospheric transport are the factors controlling the disturbance of OC/EC over the NEUS in decadal time scale. 

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